How do you deal with disappointment? What do you do when things don't go to plan? Recently something didn't go to plan for me. I felt fazed, discombobulated, confused.
There was something I wanted, let's call it The Opportunity. The Opportunity was presented to me as a possibility that I could explore. It would require me to think about things a bit differently, move out of my comfort zone, step up, take some chances. I decided to go for it. I was ready. I was 100% committed to seizing The Opportunity. I read about it, I thought about it, I asked for advice about it, I spoke to people about it, I visualised myself doing it. I created a momentum. Everything was flowing in the right direction from Here to There, easily, seamlessly, smoothly.
I constructed a narrative around The Opportunity manifesting itself into a reality:
- past - all the things I'd done coming together to form perfect preparation for The Opportunity
- present - articulating my vision for The Opportunity becoming real, seeing others buy in and become excited, the satisfaction and challenge of being given The Opportunity; and
- future - making it work, turning The Opportunity into fantastic Reality.
There was almost a cosmic poetry to it all. Lately I'd begun to feel more comfortable working out of my comfort zone, working cheek by jowl with uncertainty, taking chances. This was just one step on from that. As it happened I'd spent a few days at an event in San Francisco with about five hundred amazingly positive, enthusiastic women at a wonderful conference. It was a fabulous experience. That sort of experience does things to you - it makes you're want to play your part in changing the world, be courageous, dream bigger, reach higher, be your authentic self, bring people with you. And it helps you believe it's all possible. The Opportunity came along immediately after this positive experience - the timing was coincidental but so perfect.
But things didn't go to plan. Converting The Opportunity into a reality wasn't entirely down to me. Others needed to commit too. They decided not to. That was The End.
Initially, I thought, cheerfully, stoically "Oh well, never mind". But then from out of nowhere all of the disappointments I had experienced in my life - every disappointment I had known - came flooding to the forefront of my mind, accompanied by a narrative that I wasn't enough - the time I failed to do this, the time I failed to do that, the years I spent doing things this way and not that way, doors I had hoped would open but which had closed instead, failed relationships, bad decisions, regretful conversations. Cosmic poetry about you? Pah! The Comos has so many other more important people and things to write poetry for. There was a relief in making sense of it all in this negative way. But also gloominess on coming to terms with the fact that everything was going to stay the same.
I wondered what lessons I could take from this occurrence - well obviously sometimes you just don't get what you want. But what else?
Why did I take it so personally? Was it really about me? Maybe it was to do with other people's strengths and weaknesses and not mine. That was an interesting thought.
I had approached this experience as my true self and I questioned whether I was right to do this. If things don't work out when you are a pretendy self then you can always console yourself with the possibility that if you'd been your real self, things could have been different. Maybe I should have tried to emulate someone else? No, that didn't feel right. It seems that being true to myself is important to me.
As for my old friend, Not Enough, well I decided I thought that I was enough today. Well sort of. Probably. That was good enough. The alternative was too exhausting to contemplate.
I asked myself what aspects of The Opportunity really interested me. I thought about whether there were ways I could do those things anyway, create my own opportunity. Yes is the answer. So I'll be getting on with that.
I am a big fan of the research professor and writer Dr Brené Brown. She says" When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending". There's a chapter right there.
Have you been disappointed lately? How did you deal with it? xoxoxoxoSuggest a correction